Hibs 1, Hearts 1: Fairytale return for Martin Boyle as he earns Hibs derby point
Martin Boyle sparked euphoria in the stands and an invasion of the pitch with an equaliser deep into injury time as Hibs snatched a point in the first Edinburgh derby of the season against rivals Hearts.
Wearing number 77, the Australian internationalist was a 62nd-minute replacement for Josh Campbell and got on the end of Élie Youan’s cutback in the fifth minute of added time to cancel out Lawrence Shankland’s first-half opener.
The early stages were a case of going through the derby checklist. Green and maroon smoke bombs holding up the start? Check. Bits of plastic from the tifo in the East Stand blowing onto the pitch? Naturally. Meaty challenges from both sides? Of course.
But there was a pattern to the way Hibs started the match, as well. The first four openings fell to the hosts but they were unable to make them count. It could be argued that Hibs had the better of the first half, certainly until Shankland’s goal.
A Ryan Porteous header flashed well wide, Élie Youan had a couple of efforts that posed no trouble for Craig Gordon, and a low Chris Cadden cross missed at least three or four in the box.
Hearts’ first effort, from Shankland, was narrowly deflected out for a corner, while Craig Halkett’s header wasn’t too far away, but Hibs could have, and should have dealt with the opening goal in a far better manner than they managed.
Barrie McKay dinked a perfectly-weighted ball over the top to Shankland who held off Nohan Kenneh and slotted it between David Marshall’s legs despite Cadden’s best efforts on the goal-line.
Ten minutes later Kenneh might have levelled but, ironically, his close-range effort was cleared by Shankland. Newell then fired just over before Craig Gordon pulled off a stunning one-handed save to deny Youan the equaliser from an Elias Melkersen cross.
Early in the second half it was Marshall’s turn to catch the eye with an impressive double-save, denying Shankland and then thwarting McKay from the follow-up.
Hibs kept pushing for an equaliser but were frustrated time and again. Johnson’s words about not seeing his side at their best until a few games into the season rang true as the hosts, for want of a better description, looked rusty in places.
There were also unsavoury scenes when Alex Cochrane was pelted with objects thrown from the Hibs support as he attempted to take a throw-in.
Had the Hibs players been similarly accurate with their aim from set-pieces and crosses they might have taken something from the game – but that is presumably something that will be worked on during training at East Mains this week.
Boyle’s introduction shortly after the hour mark predictably ramped up the atmosphere but without a proper pre-season he understandably flitted in and out.
When Rocky Bushiri headed narrowly over from a corner with time ticking down, it looked like the last chance for Hibs. As the Hearts fans partied in the South Stand, the home supporters made for the exits.
But Boyle is the type of player capable of producing the unthinkable, and as he has done so many times in green and white, earned Hibs something from nothing.